Note from the Editor:

Not long ago, I asked on the forum for funny or crazy stories related to their reef aquarium. Below is a compilation of the posts received so far in the thread. Some will make you laugh and some will make you grimace, but they're all true.


@SDK: I made the mistake of putting a decorator crab into a holding tank with a bright blue sponge filter. The crab tore it to shreds and completely covered himself in the pieces. I had what looked like a mobile blueberry muffin roaming my tank for months after that....

A photo from @SDK's display tank.

Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @SDK, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.


@seaplane: Picture it: You are pulling into your basement garage, and as the door raises you see a puddle of water on the floor and water dripping from the ceiling. Quickly, you realize your 75g beautiful reef tank is located right where it's coming from. You rush upstairs to find your tank half empty and your macaw parrot behind the stand bathing himself in the flood he created by pulling the return hose off.

One type of macaw.

This is a royalty-free image from AngieToh of Pixabay.


@Captain Quint: In my last home, I had a 20g long on an upstairs landing as well as a 40b and below to the right side of the downstairs living room I had an 8' 300g.

I had removed one of the 300g screen sections for feeding and hadn't replaced right away. (As luck would have it.)

Since my observation time (to ensure health) was complete of a diamond goby I had in the 40b I decided to do a transfer, as it was going downstairs to a 125g I had in another room.

As soon as I removed the top to the 40b the diamond went sailing several feet into the air (high vaulted ceilings) and I watched in horror as I knew the goby was gonna fall splat flat from the height.

Its trajectory landed it in the 2' section of the 300g which I had taken the 2' screen top (had a total of 4) and I saw it land perfectly in the 300g. I would have rated it a 10 for the diving scale. Haha, it remained in the 300g and I got another for the 125g.


@ca1ore: Back in the old days when I still lugged buckets to do water changes I had, on two occasions that I can recall, fish jump out of the tank and land in the filled buckets next to the tank. A perfect ‘ten’...I guess the fish were trying to tell me to do more frequent water changes if they were that ‘desperate’ for new water.


@Mariette: Ich. DT fallow. QT just done with copper. Water change time. Accidentally used bucket of syphoned DT water to top off QT. Lovely. Now I have 2 sets of buckets w different colours. White for DT. Orange for QT. Fun.


@Retro Reefer: Didn’t happen to me but my brother-in-law's wife was sitting on their couch watching TV about 3 feet from their tank when all of a sudden a fish plopped onto her lap; it had jumped from the tank and made a perfect landing.


@Crabs McJones: Funniest thing that happened to me is I forgot to lock the doors on my stand, and my two year old decided to play in the water. Big mess lots of cleanup, but she had a big smile on her face.


@Peace River: We used to have a cat that was clearly overbred for looks. When he was a kitten he would sit on the floor by the fish tank and for hours would watch the fish swim back and forth. We decided that it was a good idea to move a kitchen chair in front of the tank so that he could get a better view (he was nowhere near the top so no worries there). A short time later I heard him getting twitchy on the chair, so I quietly stepped into the corner of the room to watch. Finally, he decided to go for it and dove directly into the side of the glass tank.

That was the last time that cat paid attention to any fish for the next 14 years!


@brandon429: Forgetting to clear the siphon hose before you use it is a core breather's mistake. I've taken 6-week-old, summer, garage water right to the alveoli.


@Arcticreefer: I have a big dog, a bullmastiff that has twice rescued my yellow watchman goby when he went carpet surfing. First time he picked up the fish and came to me with the fish in his mouth all covered in dust and drool. Thought the fish was done for but washed him off and put him in the tank again and apart from a few frayed fins he was fine.

Then one day my dog comes to me acting oddly. Thought at first he wanted food or his water bowl was empty but then I see the goby has jumped again and landed in the water bowl and my dog wasn’t too happy with sharing his water. No idea how long he was in the bowl but he seemed to not have suffered from that adventure.

Yes, I have a net top now.


@Paul B: So today I walked into my workshop/fishroom/workshop/ManCave and I looked at my tank. OMG!! The tank was totally cloudy and the fishes eyes were all smoky. Every one of them.

Then my wife, who followed me in said "What's on fire?"

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGGGggggg. The tank wasn't cloudy and the fish's eyes weren't smoky. The place was filled up with smoke. Ahhhhhhgggggggggggg. There was also a big puddle under the tank which I jumped right into to start unplugging things. I looked around and couldn't feel anything hot or leaking. But then, my electrician's keen eye saw this. (see picture below) Now I went to high school and everything, so I knew this wasn't good. There was water coming out of the brand new electrical outlet, and the pumps and other things plugged into it were not running. I checked the breaker, and it had tripped.

But I still couldn't figure out where the water was coming from. I replaced the receptacles and melted plugs and turned the power on.

AAAAAAAHHHHhhhhhhhggggggggAAAaaaaaaaa Flood. Water was shooting out of a pipe coupling near the top of the skimmer and hitting the ceiling. Then it was traveling down the side of the tank right into the outlet. The PVC coupling that was used for many years completely split in half, and most of the water that was supposed to go into the skimmer, went into my outlets.

I then turned on my really huge, manly exhaust fan full force until my ears were clean of wax and cleared out the smoke.

Now I fixed the coupling and electric and all is again well.

Electrical damage.

Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @Paul B, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

@WVNed: My cat jumped up onto my tank. It is open top.

The funny part was the sound effects Spoosh MEORRRRWWWW spoosh ROWWWWWWWEOEOEO splat thump thump thump.

It was a big mess.

The reef cat.

Photo is from the Reef2Reef archives courtesy of @WVNed, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

@dantimdad: Funny now, but not at the time.

I was working on a sump modification. Got it leak tested and drained and was about to carry it into the house. I tripped over the hose/pump cord and literally threw the sump. It landed on my Camry and dented\scratched the hood and shattered.

I can only imagine what a sight it was to see a 245 pound man trying not to fall dancing around the carport and the sump sailing through the air.

Needless to say, I have a fijicube sump now.


@michael giordano: I was glueing some frags and wiped my face with the glue in hand. Somehow I glued my top eyelash. I then, of course, closed my eye, and then my eyelashes were glued shut. Lol I had to have the wife tear apart my eye lashes and cut some of them off. It was a tough day for sure!


@sfin52: our cat Nemo caught and removed Nemo from the tank. Well she got four before I figured out what was going on.


@MichaelE: Hmm, I’ve had a couple that weren’t too funny at the time it happened but time heals all wounds.

Here’s one:

A long time ago the 15 year old me was having to move my reef tank due my family buying a new house. I had just gotten water in the tank (fortunately no animals) and connected the power heads.
I noticed that one of the pumps wasn’t spinning so reached down to give it a knock. As soon as my hand entered the water I realized that I had made a huge mistake, and I was getting electrocuted like there’s no tomorrow. Anyways, next thing I remember is coming to on the floor wondering what happened. Naturally I unplug the broken pump and go to get it out of the tank and wouldn’t you know it, I get zapped again! Luckily not as bad this time. It was the dang pump that was spinning that was the culprit.

That would have been a really stupid way to die....


@5altkreep: I used to thaw my frozen food in an old coffee cup... one morning we had friends over, and not paying attention, i managed to pour my coffee in the tank instead of the food! I use creamer, and the whole tank went to insta cloud! My audience thought it was much funnier than I did lol.


@lapin: While putting frozen fish food cubes in a cup to thaw, my tea water boiled. So I made a cuppa. Well I put a cube of fish food in my tea by accident. Yes i did drink it. Waste not want not.


@Alemoki: So when I still kept [freshwater] discus about a year and a bit ago, I had a system where I would connect a hose to the tank and turn a valve to drain the tank and the water would only drain to a certain point where it would stop. After this I would then close the valve and then flick a switch and prepared water would pump back in; but the pumping back in would not stop automatically.

I was sitting across from the tank while it was pumping back in and got distracted on the phone messaging someone. I suddenly hear water landing on the floor and look up to see the sump overflowing onto the floor. Naturally I jump up and make a quick sprint to the tank and when trying to stop my feet continued forward and I did a comical backflip onto my back into the puddle surrounding the tank. In pain I rolled over and flick the switch off to stop the pump.

My mom looked up from her book in shock at the whole situation and I literally just lay there in defeat drenched and in pain in a puddle of water. I eventually saw the humorous side when cleaning up the mess (still drenched.)


@Jpconer: 20+ Yrs ago I had Whitemouth Moray that I was moving to a quarantine tank...I set the bucket with the eel on the kitchen counter near the sink...I came back after removing lid from QT, removed the towel I had covering bucket, and the eel freaked out...launched itself out of the bucket...landed in the sink and went down into the garbage disposal space...I immediately poured some of the eater down the drain and not wanting to get bit had to quickly "uninstall" the disposal to get it out and poured the eel directly into QT and then reinstall the disposal....


@ZipAdeeZoa: I think we've all done some things we're not proud of in this hobby. Things like flush dilute bleach solution from our eyes with water conditioner because the LFS you worked at turned the broken eyewash station into algae brush holder instead of replacing it. Or trying to pull a snowflake eel off your finger before the second jaw grabs it while explaining to your boss exactly why this happened in the first place.

I'm actually really new to having my own saltwater aquarium so I only have one story I thought was funny with my own tank. Important note: this story is very underwhelming compared to the others above.

A few weeks ago, I took a powerhead and started blowing detritus off my rock with a powerhead before I did my weekly water change. While doing this I saw a few pieces of red and blue come flying out from the rockwork and quickly unplugged the power head to see what happened. The sole resident of the tank was a dwarf blue leg hermit crab I had added two weeks before, and it was clear I had somehow managed to obliterate him with the powerhead.

I pulled up a stool and stared into my tank trying to come to terms with fact that I had just killed my first saltwater creature when out of the corner of my eye I saw movement from within the tank. I was really startled because the only thing in the tank I knew of was dead and fell off my stool. I quickly scrambled off the floor and peered into the tank to see my hermit crab alive and well, just bigger. You'd think someone who has had tarantulas and scorpions for years would remember that hermit crabs molt.


@Seawitch: About 20 years ago, when I had about a dozen freshwater tanks, one late night my husband and I were sitting up in bed talking. My daughter, then about 10, had the flu, couldn't sleep, and had a high fever, so she was between us, so I could keep my eye on her.

The grown-up conversation went like this:

"I think that male is about ready to come out of quarantine."

"Well, let's leave him there for another week until I deliver the fry to pet store."

"You want to put him in the 70[g] or the 90[g]?"

"Well, he's an adolescent...."



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Author Profile: Cynthia White

Cynthia received her BA in English from NYU a long long time ago. She has been a freelance writer and editor for over 20 years. In 2018, she won the President's Award from the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Now she is a writer and editor on staff at R2R, where her forum nickname is @Seawitch.